MAKING THE MOST OF THE SITUATION
Mohamoud Diabate was in the game for only 19 plays Saturday when the 11th-ranked Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC) torched Vanderbilt 56-0. Dan Mullen called this a real teaching moment even though there were more than 20 players who were in the game for more than Diabate's 19 snaps.
“He played one of the fewer snap counts of guys on defense,” Mullen said at his Monday press conference. “We had 20-some guys play with more snaps than Mahamoud did, but he was SEC Freshman of the Week. Why? Because he made his 19 plays count, made plays on those 19 plays.”
Diabate sacked Vanderbilt quarterback Deuce Wallace three times for 27 yards in losses with one of those sacks resulting in a fumble that Jonathan Greenard (SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week) picked up and returned 80 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The point Mullen was making has everything to do with a theme he's constantly driving home to his team every single week: Focus on doing the best job you can possibly do when you're in the game and when you're not in the game focus on what is going on so that when your number is called you're ready to perform at your highest level.
“Worry about the play's when you're in the game, all right?” Mullen said. “Don't worry about the plays when you're not in the game.”
In other words, control the things you can control and disregard the things that are out of your control. It certainly worked for Mahamoud Diabate against Vanderbilt.
Others honored by the SEC: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (Offensive Player of the Week); Daniel Bituli, LB, Tennessee (Defensive Player of the Week); Rodrigo Blankenship, PK, Georgia (Special Teams Player of the Week); Ben Cleveland, OL, Georgia (Offensive Lineman of the Week).
Injury report: Left guard Brett Heggie, who missed the Vanderbilt game after a week of headaches, is expected to be cleared to practice this week and play against Missouri.
Mullen said quarterback Feleipe Franks is out of the cast, on crutches and wearing a walking boot on the ankle that was dislocated and fractured in game three against Kentucky. He's rehabbing the ankle but the recovery road is still long and hard.
“It would be fortunate if we get him back for spring practice with the type of injury he had,” Mullen said. That's not always one that is an exact date, I think, from dealing with some of those in the past. It would be good if we could get him back for spring practice but I don't know if that's a possibility or not.”
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
#4 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC): Injured linebacker Dylan Moses suited up for the LSU game although Nick Saban said there was no way Moses was going to play. Moses, who is from Baton Rouge, wanted to dress out just to be a part of the team for that game according to Saban, who added that Moses is nowhere near being ready to practice much less play. Saturday: at Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC)
Arkansas (2-7, 0-6 SEC): Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage said Monday that fired Arkansas coach Chad Morris could be “the worst coach ever hired in the SEC.” Travis went on record plugging Washington State coach Mike Leach to fill the vacancy Saturday: Open
#13 Auburn (7-2. 4-2 SEC): Auburn is 39-9 at home during the Gus Malzahn era with four wins over arch-rivals Alabama and Georgia. Saturday: vs. #5 Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
#5 Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC): Wide receiver Lawrence Cager (shoulder and ribs) and center Trey Hill (ankle), who left the Missouri game and didn't return, have been cleared to practice this week.. Saturday: at #13 Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC)
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC): Looking back on UK's 17-13 loss to Tennessee, HBC Mark Stoops said, “It frustrates or baffles us how you lose a game like that.” Saturday: at Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC)
#1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC): The unsung hero of the LSU offense is running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has 786 rushing yards for 11 touchdowns to go with 28 pass catches for 202 yards and another TD. Saturday: at Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC)
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4 SEC): HBC Joe Moorhead indicated Monday that the Bulldogs will play both freshman Garrett Shrader and grad transfer Tommy Stevens at quarterback against Alabama Saturday. And speaking of Alabama, Moorhead offered these nuggets of wisdom: “I don't think you can go in playing not to lose. You have to go in playing to win.” Saturday: vs #4 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
Missouri (5-4, 2-3 SEC): The Tigers are 5-0 at home this season, but the only one of those five teams with a winning record is D1AA Southeast Missouri State (7-3), which the Tigers hammered 50-0. The other four teams (West Virginia, South Carolina, Troy and Ole Miss) have a combined record of 15-23. Saturday: vs. #11 FLORIDA (8-2, 5-2 SEC)
Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4 SEC):The Rebels lead the SEC in rushing, averaging 247.4 yards per game, led by freshman QB John Rhys Plumlee who has 777 yards and seven touchdowns. Saturday: vs. #1 LSU (9-0, 5-0 SEC)
South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC): While some fans and boosters want a new head coach, Will Muschamp has the full support of athletic director Ray Tanner and the higher ups in the school administration. Mike Gillespie of ABC Columbia has reported that Muschamp will absolutely be back for the 2020 season. Saturday: at Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC)
Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC): The unlikely hero of Tennessee's 3-game winning streak is quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who was the goat of the loss to Alabama. In the last three games, Guarantano has completed 31-48 of his passes for 491 yards and five touchdowns.
Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2 SEC): Corner Elijah Blades and safety Demani Richardson, who left the Mississippi State game with injuries on October 26, have both been cleared to practice for Saturday's game with South Carolina.
Saturday: vs. South Carolina (4-6, 3-4 SEC)
Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC): Although Vandy is averaging an SEC-low 117.56 rushing yards per game, Ke'Shawn Vaughn could very well finish with more than 1,000 yards for the second straight year. Vaughn has gained 818 yards (six touchdowns) in nine games despite being held to 28 yards on 15 carries by the Gators last Saturday. Saturday: vs. Kentucky (4-5, 2-5 SEC)
SEC HOOPS STUFF
Alabama: The NCAA has denied the appeal for a transfer waiver of Villanova transfer guard Jahvon Quinerly. Quinerly will have to sit this year but will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Arkansas: Mason Jones was selected SEC Player of the Week after scoring 32 points in the Razorbacks' season-opening win over Rice.
Kentucky: Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey was selected SEC Freshman of the Week.
Vanderbilt (2-0) 71, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 66 Alabama (1-1) 78, Florida Atlantic 59 Texas A&M (2-0) 63, Louisiana-Monroe 57
Missouri (2-0) at #21 Xavier Evansville at #1 Kentucky (2-0) The Citadel at Georgia (1-0) Norfolk State at Ole Miss (1-0) North Texas at Arkansas (1-0) #22 Auburn (2-0) at South Alabama Murray State at Tennessee (1-0)
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic on Coach O and some of LSU's best players, including quarterback Joe Burrow: “It's worth noting that the guy who for so long was hailed as the ace recruiter torched the Tide's defense with a quarterback, Joe Burrow, who Rivals labeled as a three-star recruit coming out of high school and a running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was a three-star according to 247. Their go-to receiver Justin Jefferson was a two-star who some LSU teammates thought was a walk-on when he first arrived, and the anchors of the Tigers' offensive line, Lloyd Cushenberry and Damian Lewis, were also three-star guys.”
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on Gus Malzahn, Mike Norvell and the coaching search at Arkansas and Florida State that will involve both men: “Will Arkansas chase Malzahn with the same fervor after they rebuffed him last time? The Hogs are not an attractive option, as the other top target – Memphis' Mike Norvell – would have to think long and hard before going there. He's expected to be in Florida State's wheelhouse once they inevitably strike out on big names. There's no contest which job is better between FSU and Arkansas, but there's a strong argument Norvell is better off continuing to win big at Memphis. Winning is the key to career advancement, and for Novell, 38, his current gig at Memphis is much safer than Arkansas.”
Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network on WJOX in Birmingham discussing the Arkansas situation and the possibility that Gus Malzahn should leave Auburn for that job: “As far as Chad Morris, there's no reason to pile on. I think the record is self-evident as far as what kind of coach he was. As far as Gus Malzahn, I think he has to consider it. Regardless of this weekend or two weekends from now, we all know the circumstances at Auburn. It's just a never-ending soap opera. There are people who genuinely love Gus Malzahn and appreciate him. There's an equal number who don't. I don't think that's going to change. To me, he gambled two years ago. He made a lot of money. Now I would leave. I don't think it's a difficult decision for Gus. I would take the money. We've all covered transitions. You're taking over for Chad Morris, who has one of the worst record, one of the most inept, incompetent and laughable programs I have ever seen in the history of covering the SEC. What do you have to do? Go to a bowl game and they'll give you a parade.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Not that anyone is surprised by this, but former Gator Pete Alonso was voted National League Rookie of the Year after slugging a Major League rookie record 53 homers to go with 120 RBI for the New York Mets. Alonso received 29 of the 30 first place votes … Despite reports from the NFL Network that he has emerged as a candidate for the vacant Florida State job, Deion Sanders says he has yet to speak with anyone from FSU regarding the job … Charles Rogers, who had a brilliant career at Michigan State and was the #2 overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, is dead at the age of 38 after a battle with cancer ... The Pac-12 Conference suspended one of its referees a full game for penalizing the wrong team in California's 33-20 win over Washington State. Referee Matt Richards called the penalty on Washington State which forced the Cougars to begin at their own 8-yard line, nullifying a kickoff return to midfield. The 15-yard penalty that should have been tacked on to the end of the Wazzoo kickoff return was actually committed by a California player. While Richards serves his suspension the remaining members of the crew have been downgraded … Fox Sports host Colin Cowherd listed seven reasons why Nick Saban should retire. It should be noted that Cowherd roomed with Jim McElwain at Eastern Washington University which could go a long way toward explaining inept comments like Saban should retire.